Monday, January 03, 2011

Joe Morris - Sensor (NoBusiness, 2010)

Joe Morris is a veteran musician, playing and teaching in New England and New York. Primarily known a guitarist, he added bass to his arsenal about a decade ago, and has built a remarkably original and personal conception of the instrument. This solo album was recorded in 2010 and released as a limited edition vinyl record. "Sensor" is one long meta-track, broken into seven sections, featuring Morris on both plucked and bowed bass. "Sensor 1" opens the album with him plucking semi-fast, adding slaps and pops of the old-time swing bassists for accent, but playing with the free sensibility of the music of the present and future. "Sensor 2" develops a scruffy bowed soundscape with a dark and woody ominous sound, sawing and swirling in an exciting manner. "Sensor 3" shows the deft plucking of thick, strong and powerful hands. "Sensor 4" has emotionally forlorn bowing and scraping against the backdrop of cavernous open space. The music builds with short spurts of notes juxtaposed against each other. The notes come through thick and clear on "Sensor 5" with the music sounding dexterous and fast, never getting dull. "Sensor 6" has slow plucking that builds an atmospheric feeling, patient in its development. Finally, "Sensor 7" has exciting growling bowed bass developing fast and ominous, like the soundtrack for an imagined silent movie before breaking into bleak swirls of noise. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to appreciate an album of solo bass, but this record was captivating from start to finish. Morris keeps the energy high and the improvisations varied, so there are no ruts to fall into, on a very enjoyable album. Sensor - NoBusiness Records

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